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And the first snowfall has started!

December 5, 2005, 7:35 PM

It’s so interesting to work at Wal-Mart when snow is falling or when it’s predicted to come. The entire population of Waynesboro piles into the store, and buys enough groceries to last them for weeks on end. All of us who work there just comment to ourselves that it’s only a few inches, and these people are acting like they’ll be buried in snow up to their necks for weeks.

Then of course when it snows, reports trickle in about what’s going on elsewhere in the town. By that I mean road conditions, school closures, accidents, etc. And of course, since Wal-Mart has no windows, it’s hard for us to tell what it’s doing outside.

Of course, meanwhile, I’m thinking about my ten-mile drive back to Stuarts Draft from work, and how deeply my car will be covered in snow, and how tricky getting out will be. I park on the far edge of the lot, nose in, with a rear wheel drive vehicle, so it can get a little tricky. By the way, I park in the same parking space every day unless a semi or motor home blocks it. The last row in the lot is slanted down more sharply than the rest of the lot, and so with my car being rear-wheel drive, it doesn’t take much distance before my drive wheels are on snow, ice, or slush. But I got out just fine, after realizing I didn’t know where my snow brush and ice scraper were. So to get de-snowed, I just used the front and back wipers a few times, and did some up-and-down moves with the front windows to clear it all.

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Categories: DC trips, Winter weather

Food for thought

December 4, 2005, 5:14 PM

First of all, some food for thought regarding the war in Iraq that came in the form of a letter to the editor in the Staunton News Leader, printed here in its entirety:

If the United States military stays in Iraq 10 more days, 10 more months, or 10 more years will the outcome be significantly different? – Tom Long, Mount Solon

I wonder that as well. I personally lean very strongly towards saying that it was never our business to invade Iraq in the first place.

Thought I’d share that.

Meanwhile, I can’t believe I didn’t hear about the protests against global warming until I read about it in the newspaper this morning. I was like, wow. Not much happened for this one in DC from what I could tell on DC Indymedia. I did, however, find the new Climate IMC site. This is an Indymedia site specifically for climate-related news.

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Fun day in Lynchburg and Roanoke on Wednesday…

December 2, 2005, 1:21 AM

I got a late start, but things still went well. When I go to Lynchburg, I usually take a back way – 610 to 664 (Mt. Torrey Road), which changes to Delphine Avenue when you hit the Waynesboro city limits. Then I take I-64 to Charlottesville and then take US 29 south to Lynchburg.

This time, I did things differently – partly by choice, and partly by necessity. I intended on taking Route 610 to 664 and then to US 250 over the mountain, and then follow Route 6 to US 29 near the Nelson County Wayside. I was on a bit of a no-interstates thing on Wednesday. No interstates (except for the dash back home from Roanoke), and nothing controlled-access, either.

The by-necessity change started on Route 610, which was impassable due to the flooding from the day before. Unlike the people in their pickup trucks, my van with its low ground clearance wouldn’t stand a chance if I crossed the water. I think I’d more likely be dead in the water. Visions of June 5, 2004 came to mind, when I hit a large puddle coming off an exit ramp, which caused the car to strain at 25 mph. Thankfully in that case, I was already at the end of my trip, and had less than a mile to go, so I just limped into the parking garage at Vienna and parked. This time, it was at the beginning of my trip, and would have wrecked the trip if I’d had that happen again. So I turned around and took an alternate route. I ended up taking US 340 into Waynesboro like I would take to go to work, went past Wal-Mart, down Main Street, and then up the mountain via US 250.

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Raining cats and dogs yesterday…

November 30, 2005, 7:23 AM

Seriously, it was raining like mad yesterday! Over the course of my day at work yesterday, it was all over the scale. Surprisingly, it was not raining both on my way to work, and walking to the building from the car. Then the rain started – a nice steady pour. Then it continued to rotate between really heavy rain (where it sounds like marbles hitting the roof) and lighter rain. And lots of wind, too. Around 1:00, we got thunder and lightning with that rain. And the lightning was sufficiently big that we could see it through the skylights, during the day. That is significant.

We also heard rumors of some flooding in the usual areas, since it was some pretty heavy rain, and had been raining for a couple of days before this. Going home from work, the river I cross on route 608 was considerably higher than normal, and then a low portion of 608 that usually floods over due to poor drainage (and repeated failed attempts to fix it) was flooded over.

And of course, it was doing heavy rain when I got home – it figures, doesn’t it? And Mom was wearing a poncho and up on a ladder fixing a problem with a gutter. I’m just like, what the heck.

Today, it’s a beautiful day. Cloudless and sunny. Colder, but that’s fine. I like the cold. However, due to flooding, Augusta County Schools opened one hour late. Go figure.

I’m just glad I got good weather today. I’m going to Lynchburg and to Roanoke today. Yay!

Categories: Weather

Black Friday, FliteStar, and beyond…

November 28, 2005, 10:34 PM

Let me tell you… the day after Thanksgiving, when Wal-Mart had its blitz sale, was interesting.

First of all, I was somewhat disappointed about the results of my efforts to get coworkers to wear all-black with me. I bombed badly on that front, as I was one of only two people wearing black on that day.

Anyways, though, I worked 4:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, as scheduled. I arrived in the parking lot at 4:15 in the morning. The lot was packed. Coming into the store, it was full of people, most of whom were kind of hanging around, waiting for the big sale to start at 5:00. Many told me that they’d been in the store since 3 AM waiting.

My exact reaction was to think, that’s hardcore. Me, I’ll happily pay full price and not deal with the crowds and chaos.

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Tomorrow is the big day…

November 24, 2005, 8:38 PM

Tomorrow at 4:30 in the morning, I must be at work for what is often called “Black Friday”, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

This will be the first time I will have actually worked right in the thick of Wal-Mart’s big after-Thanksgiving sale. The past two years, I worked later shifts, after the majority of the pandemonium had passed. This year, I am there. And tomorrow, I will be dressed in all black from the top of my mock-turtleneck all the way down to my Chucks. I’ve also tried to get coworkers to do likewise. After all, what can I say? Black is the new black.

Otherwise, though, Thanksgiving went well. I had to work, and then had Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying the heat in the car. Never again will I take having heat in one’s automobile for granted. Never.

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I got the car back, and it’s SO WARM!

November 22, 2005, 1:54 AM

Just as a heads-up, I got the car back, and the heat very much works now. Turns out that the reason for the problem was low antifreeze, which Dad thought was strange because the engine should have overheated if that was the case. And it never did. Either way, they fixed it and it only cost me $37-something. Not bad when I was expecting to pay three figures for a repair job.

When I got out, instead of going straight home like Sis did (she took me to pick the car up), I went around via Fishersville – 250 to 608. I wanted to give that heater some chance to perform, which it did – admirably.

Let me tell you, though – I will never take having heat in the car for granted again. You don’t know how much you appreciate it until you don’t have it anymore.

Categories: Toyota Previa

The car’s out getting fixed, and I’m at home…

November 21, 2005, 1:53 PM

So this morning, I dropped the car off. Sis helped me with delivering the car to Jenkins Automotive, and then we stopped off somewhere for breakfast.

Fast forward a little bit, and I just got a call – the car’s ready, and heat has been restored. Yay! I’m so tickled on that front. Let’s just say that I will never take automotive heat for granted ever again.

I’d dare say there’s nothing more unpleasant than driving home from Washington in sub-freezing temperatures (such as on this last trip home). That’s a 150-mile trip, too, mind you. And doing the one-handed thing the whole way – driving with one hand, and sitting on the other hand to warm it up. Now I can drive without a coat, hat, and gloves again.

This will also make the ride to work in the morning more pleasant and safer. The last few days, my car’s been iced over when I come to it, and I couldn’t do anything about it owing to lack of heat. I used my de-icing spray to clear the frozen stuff off, plus have de-icer washer fluid in there right now, but heat really helps in melting off the ice. Nothing beats good old heat there – it’s far superior to chemical methods, though those do have their strong points.

I’m just glad now that I’m going to have my heat again…

Categories: Toyota Previa

Two more days until heat?

November 19, 2005, 9:30 PM

I mentioned not long ago (here) that my car’s heat was not working, and as such any car rides are a cold affair. In fact, I have a pair of gloves next to the driver’s seat in case it gets really cold in there. That or you’ll see me driving one-handed, which I can do quite well after I was in a sling for a month in 1999 due to a shoulder injury. Usually if it’s cold and I’m driving one-handed, I’ve got one hand on the wheel, and the other hand either under my leg or behind my back – either way, next to a really warm place on my body so as to warm that hand up.

After a particularly cold trip back from Washington last Wednesday, I finally determined that I was going to get the heat fixed, which I’d resisted doing, in part due to laziness, and in part due to not wanting to have to pay to fix it. But it’s either that or freeze this winter. So I’m paying for it. Hopefully it’s something minor that won’t be very hard to fix. Let’s not even think about if it’s a major problem.

So I’m taking my car to Jenkins on Main Street in Waynesboro on Monday to get it fixed. My memory of Jenkins is waiting in there for much of the day on the day of my high school graduation getting a brake job. When I finally got antsy about whether the car would be ready in time to get home for graduation, I called home to get picked up, and then got the car the next day. This time, Sis is following me to drop the car off, and taking me right back home. Then she’s taking me back to Jenkins in the afternoon to pick it up. In between, I’m sure I’ll find something to do at home (I’m off work on Monday – that’s a first).

So perhaps after Monday, I’ll have heat in the car again. I certainly hope so. Otherwise, it’s going to be a COLD winter, and an icy one, as I otherwise have no access to heat to defrost my windows – just de-icer spray, which is only helpful to an extent.

Categories: Toyota Previa

This advertisement for Blue Cross just struck me as funny.

November 17, 2005, 3:14 PM

Check it out, and see if you see what I see…

"Lend a hand" Blue Cross ad

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Categories: Advertising

Hello from Pentagon City!

November 16, 2005, 5:44 PM

Hello all from the Apple store at Pentagon City Mall! (Yes, I’m writing this on a Mac.) What a fun day I’ve had. I went around to Lafayettte Square, where I met up with one of the DAWN demonstrators from February. I saw lots of people engage them in debate, as they were doing a similar anti-torture demonstration in front of the White House. However, no arrests this time.

After that, I went up and around on the Metro, and even took a bus from Fort Totten to Georgia Avenue-Petworth. Flxible 9802, running on the 64. Then I got one of the happiest train operators on earth (some of you may know who I’m referring to) for the ride to Gallery Place-Chinatown.

I also tried to visit the Infoshop, but they were closed when I came by. They would reopen at 6 PM, but I wasn’t about to wait more than an hour for them to open up. Ah, well…

And now, it’s Pentagon City time…

Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

Going to Washington on back-to-back weeks…

November 16, 2005, 4:34 AM

I’m going to Washington this week on back-to-back weeks, thanks to a work schedule on my intended week that doesn’t permit a trip – I’d need to have either two days off together, or a day off followed by a shift that starts at noon. So I’m going this week instead, then it will be three weeks before I go again.

And it looks like my weather will be unsuitable for outdoor photography once again, with rain predicted. So we say *sigh* as I once again have to come up with alternate plans.

Meanwhile, I want to see a “Blue Screen of Death” come up on one of our self-checkouts at work. Considering that the Fastlanes seemed to be crashing left and right yesterday, and run Microsoft Windows, I wouldn’t put it past them to BSoD eventually. I just want to be there when they do it so I can laugh (and take a couple of pictures).

And then I’m still working on the site redesign/refurbishment. I’ve got tags on the site now in Life and Times and Photography that mark some images as being available under the GNU Free Documentation License. Those images that are available under the GFDL are the ones I also have uploaded to Wikipedia, which requires that images be licensed under GFDL, another free license, or put in the public domain. I certainly don’t want to put my images into the public domain (no way will I ever do that), but GFDL is a fair compromise. So now these images will be marked on here, and I’m still working to implement this. Right now, 23 images are marked like this in Life and Times.

And now, I’ve piddled enough. Off to DC!

I now know what happens when you overstay your welcome at the Exeloo…

November 11, 2005, 1:47 AM

I went to Washington on Wednesday, and had fun. I explored around Washington Circle near the Foggy Bottom station, explored a bit around the Friendship Heights station, and also walked through the neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stations. All in all, it was a relaxing day, and I got some awesome photos.

First of all, Washington Circle. You may recall that I first visited Washington Circle by accident, on my “accidental” DC trip in August. There, I discovered Washington Circle while trying to find my way to I-66 from downtown Washington, and took four laps around the circle in the process. This time, I just took one lap, for photos, all the while amused about my past experience.

Also, despite DC being a large city, it’s really a small, small world. At Washington Circle, by pure chance, I ran into someone I’d first met at Dupont Circle on September 24. Here she is then:

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

Mid-overhaul, I’m feeling fine…

November 11, 2005, 1:24 AM

So far, I’ve refurbished two sections of the site: the Journal (which you’re looking at), and the Online Store. The Journal’s update is one I’m quite pleased with, as it adds some functionality that wasn’t there before. For one thing, I added “permalinks” for the entries, linked as “Link to or print this article”. Those are at the bottom of each entry. For an example, here’s a link to the recent Journal entry entitled A fun day was had by all…

Notice how it’s on one page there by itself. And print it – it doesn’t run off the side of the page. It is all neatly fitted in there. At least that’s what it did on my printer.

Another fun feature I added was what I’ve heard called “bookmarks” and “anchors”. It’s used on FAQs and things like that where if you click the link, it skips you to a spot on the page. Here’s an example of this in action, click this link to the Journal entry Talk about threatening-looking weather… from August 2005.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

I voted, using the new touch-screen voting machines…

November 8, 2005, 5:35 PM

Today after work, I voted in Virginia’s 2005 gubernatorial election. We’ll see whether the guy I voted for ends up winning or not.

This year, things were a bit different in the voting-equipment category. Through the 2004 election, voters in Augusta County used these old, mechanical voting machines. These things were great. They were this awful institutional-blue color with plaid curtains. They looked like they came straight out of the 1950s. Those things had charm. First, you pulled the big blue lever with the red handle. That closed the curtain, and you were ready to vote. Then you pulled the little red levers to make your selection, and it made a “chink” sound. Then when satisfied with your selection, you pulled the big handle again, it made a whole bunch of mechanical noises like “ka-chink” to record your vote, reset all the levers, and then opened the curtain. Vote cast.

Like I said, I loved those old machines because they had charm. Completely mechanical. I think that the only electricity required for them was used to power the lights inside the booth.

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